‘Ovation’ Review: A Peek Behind The Curtain

Posted in The Screening Room by - December 01, 2015

Ovation is the newest film from director/writer Henry Jaglom and features the duo of Tanna Frederick and James Denton as the two main leads. It’s an interesting film that follows the backstage drama at an acclaimed LA play that features Frederick as the headliner. It follows a week in their lives as they prepare for nightly performances and attempt to deal with their personal lives in the process.

The crux of the storyline is the romance between Denton and Frederick as he attempts to sell her on the idea of jumping ship to work on a syndicated television show with him. She is hesitant and does her best to stall him, all the while trying to secure funding for the play she is headlining The Rainmaker. Meanwhile, there are other plots revolving around it involving a woman caught in a love triangle, and some of the other bit players trying to discern the status of the play.

Frederick and Denton are fantastic in the film. Their chemistry together is believable and feels real, which helps to support some of the parts of the film that drag. Anytime they are on-screen together, they brighten the film with a truly memorable relationship. Denton’s charisma shines through with every scene, showing off his garish charm and quick wit. He plays perfectly off of Frederick’s coy and reserved turn, and the two are depicted as equals in the film. At the end of the film they are equals which is refreshing to see in a film that could have resorted retreading old ground.  

Unfortunately, whenever Denton and Frederick are off-screen, the film greatly suffers from the other performances in the film. At times, I wondered if I was watching a table read as the actors were performing a scene in a forced and over exaggerated manor.  Most of the scenes without the two leads are forgettable for this reason, and some begin to verge on just banal. Thankfully, Frederick and Denton are not missing for too many scenes, but their presence is definitely missed whenever they are absent.

Indie films have become a dime a dozen in the current Hollywood landscape, but ones that have truly standout performances are always the ones that I gravitate to. Ovation delivers with the outstanding performances by Tanna Frederick and James Denton. If you have a chance, take a look behind the curtain and enjoy a character-driven drama about the actors who make theater possible.

Final Say: Watch It 

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Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He’s a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You’ll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.

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